Xi’s visit set to bolster ties with Myanmar

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/12 21:53:40

Chen Hai Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in Myanmar

Editor's Note:

Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming state visit to Myanmar on Friday and Saturday will mark his first foreign visit of this year. It is also the first visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president in 19 years. What's its significance? Where are China-Myanmar bilateral ties heading? Chen Hai (Chen), Chinese ambassador to Myanmar, accepted a joint interview of several Chinese media outlets on these issues.

Q: Could you provide some details on President Xi's state visit to Myanmar?

Under the current arrangements between China and Myanmar, the highlights of President Xi's trip will be:

First, President Xi will attend several state events organized by Myanmar's President Win Myint, will hold talks with Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, attend a banquet hosted by Suu Kyi, meet with Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, meet with Myanmar's parliamentary and party leaders, participate in major events with personalities from all circles, and establish extensive contact with Myanmar's government, army, parliament, political parties, and civilians.

Second, Xi and the major leaders of Myanmar's government will jointly attend events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Myanmar and the launching ceremony of China-Myanmar Culture and Tourism Year.

Third, Xi and leaders of Myanmar will jointly attend the ceremony for exchanging documents on bilateral exchanges. The two sides are expected to sign several agreements, covering politics, economy, livelihoods and regional cooperation.  

Q: How will the two countries boost cooperation under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework and the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor?

Leaders of the two countries have reached consensus on cooperation under the BRI framework and the corridor. Taking President Xi's visit as an opportunity, the two will also strengthen strategic links, sign a series of documents and promote progress in economic projects. As the next step, China will implement the consensus reached between the two countries' leaders and promote the co-development of the BRI and the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Q: Myanmar is a neighbor of China. China has always followed through on the four-point principle of "amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness" in developing neighborhood diplomacy, and upheld the equality of countries regardless of their size. How do you view China-Myanmar ties from this perspective?

Fostering a stable and peaceful regional environment is the shared expectation of China and Myanmar. China advocates friendly relations with Myanmar under the ideas of amity, sincerity, mutual-benefit and inclusiveness.

"Amity" involves good-neighborly interactions, mutual support and assistance, and frequent reciprocal visits. As a Chinese saying goes, neighbors wish each other well, just as loved ones do. 

Over the past seven decades, China-Myanmar relations have continued to develop on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust, and mutual assistance, setting an example of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between large and small countries.

In recent years, the two sides have witnessed frequent high-level reciprocal visits and dynamic people-to-people contacts. Close contact, communication, exchanges and cooperation have been seen at all levels.

In 2020, China and Myanmar will hold a series of events to promote cooperation in economy, trade, and culture. The two sides will continue to promote the traditional "Paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship between the people of the two countries, deepen comprehensive strategic cooperation, and work together to build a community with a shared future. The two countries will remain good neighbors linked by rivers and mountains. 

"Sincerity" means treating neighboring countries with sincerity. President Xi pointed out that "Big countries should treat smaller ones as equals instead of acting as a hegemon imposing their will on others… China will continue to uphold justice and friendship and pursue shared interests." 

Currently, China and Myanmar are developing the BRI and the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. According to Myanmar's development plan and demand, China is promoting projects in education, healthcare and poverty alleviation, and reinforcing cooperation in agriculture, tourism and infrastructure in Myanmar. China will support Myanmar in pursuing a path of development in line with its own national conditions, and Myanmar's efforts in safeguarding its sovereignty and security. The two sides have always boosted each other on several occasions, such as the United Nations and East Asia cooperation, and have maintained coordination in building China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. 

"Mutual benefit" means cooperation with neighboring countries based on the principle of reciprocal benefits, so that neighboring countries can benefit from China's development and vice versa. China and Myanmar have forged mutual-benefit "Paukphaw" friendship in time-honored interactions. The construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor has made all-round progress, promoting employment and economic development in Myanmar, and remarkably improving the living standards of local people.

Bilateral economic and trade cooperation between China and Myanmar has continued to deepen. China has been Myanmar's largest trading partner and an important source of foreign investment for many years. From January to September 2019, trade volume reached $13.54 billion, a year-on-year increase of 17.9 percent. During the same period, Chinese companies invested $150 million in Myanmar; the value of newly contracted projects in Myanmar reached $4.77 billion, a year-on-year increase of 238.1 percent.

China will continue to engage in consultation, connect with Myanmar's national development strategy, and promote the development of China-Myanmar cooperation.

"Inclusiveness" advocates tolerance. The Asia-Pacific region is large enough to accommodate the development of all countries. It requires open-mindedness and proactive attitude to promote regional cooperation. 

China and Myanmar both adhere to the basic norms of international relations, support multilateralism, safeguard free trade, and jointly contribute to the establishment of a fair and rational new international relationship. Although the two countries differ in development, people in both countries share the aspirations for a better life and promoting the progress of society. China is committed to working with Myanmar to build the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor into a corridor of peace and development. 

Q: How do you see the opportunities of cooperation between the two countries? 

President Xi pointed out that to face common challenges and march toward a bright future, we need not only economic and technological power, but also the power of cultural civilization. Linked by mountains and rivers and with a natural bond of affinity, China and Myanmar went through similar historical paths and hold the same dream for the future. Going forward, we need to see where the world is going, ride on the trend of the times and turn the two peoples' longing for a better life into reality. 

Both China and Myanmar have splendid cultures over a long history. Under the joint efforts of leaders and people, the two countries have cooperated in a wide range of areas in the cultural field and yielded fruitful results. The China Cultural Center in Yangon opened in 2018 and has become an important platform for China-Myanmar cultural exchanges. The two sides have decided to designate 2020 as the China-Myanmar Culture and Tourism Year. Through the combination of culture and tourism, the two countries will further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, tourism, religion and media and promote mutual understanding and friendship between the people.


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